Some of the nation’s best known artistes could be richer by ¢2,900,000.00 each if demand by their legal counsel on telecommunications company, MTN, for compensation for alleged violations of their intellectual rights holds.
The artistes are Mrs. Bernice Offei, Mas. Rebecca Acheampong, also known as Becca and the group popularly known as Praye which comprises Messrs Christopher Koranteng, Eugene Baah and Stephen Fiawoo. A letter dated January 7, 2010 written and signed on behalf of the aggrieved musicians by their counsel, Tuinese Esq., head of legal Resource Centre and addressed to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Scancom Ghana, Ltd, operators of the MTN network gave details of the alleged rights violation.
“We are instructed that MTN Ghana has created an on-line avenue, a website called MTN Loaded for transactions including the sale and purchase of wall papers for telecommunication devices. Through this website, MTN has invited the globe to purchase images of artistes including our clients.
According to the letter, the images may be used as wallpapers by subscribers of MTN who pay for the images and in addition to the images of their clients being said out without any reference to them (musicians), music produced by the above mentioned artistes are being sold out on MTN platforms as caller IDs to subscribers, citing the case of Bernice Offei’s song Life as an example.
The letter went on to say that the blatant disregard for the intellectual property rights of the musicians went beyond tortuous violations and appeared to have entered the realm of corporate criminal liability, adding that your appropriations of the proprietary interest of our clients are not only unauthorized but also appear to have been tainted with gross dishonesty.”
It further stated that in view of the gravity and distasteful nature of the issues at stake, the Ministry of Communications Authority, the Ghana Police Service and others, had been requested for detailed investigations into the issue.
“We wish to notify you that our position is informed by the nature of information in the possession of our clients. Your unauthorized, unethical and seemingly corporate criminal actions have caused difficulties without client’s contractual obligations to other telecommunication operators in Ghana.
“We least expected such violations of our clients’ property rights as protected under the relevant norms and instruments of law in Ghana and internationally”, it said. The letter stated that while the musicians might be willing to amicably resolve the problem, the council had been instructed to proceed to court if MTN did not respond favorably within 14 days that the letter was written.
The counsel for the artistes, Tuinese Edward Amuzu, Esq. told Showbiz in a chat that contact had been made with a member of MTN’s legal department and a meeting has been scheduled for sometime next week to lookfurther at the issue.
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